Toilets, lift added to stadium space

A fresh war of words has broken out over suggestions Forsyth Barr Stadium has been caught short by missing toilets inside the venue.

It emerged this week Dunedin Venues Management Ltd - which runs the roofed stadium - had spent $166,000 in recent months adding new toilets and a service lift stop on Level 2A, inside the stadium's south stand.

The work was completed in August, and was needed to service a nearby office and function area that was proving hard to lease without the services, DVML chairman Sir John Hansen confirmed when contacted.

The situation came to light after an email exchange from October, involving DVML chief executive Darren Burden, Cr Lee Vandervis and former Dunedin City Council chief executive Paul Orders, was published online this week.

In it, Mr Burden, responding to questions from Cr Vandervis, confirmed the installation of new toilets inside the venue, ''which in an ideal world would have been installed as part of the original build''.

Sir John, asked about the email, told the Otago Daily Times the improvements were needed to bring the area up to a standard that was ''actually usable''.

Previously, prospective tenants looking at the space had been put off by the absence of a service lift stop and lack of toilets on the same level, he said.

''There was no lift stopping there, there was no toilet there. It made it very, very hard to make it a valuable commercial space.

''As soon as any potential tenants looked at something, they'd say they had to go up or downstairs to toilets and they weren't interested,'' he said.

DVML staff confirmed this week male and female toilet blocks - with nine toilets in total - had been added, for use by three tenants inside the Level 2A office space.

The tenants included the Otago Rugby Football Union and the Otago Rugby Supporters Club, as well as a third unnamed tenant, staff said.

The work was carried out after a business case was prepared. The revamped area had already hosted four ''revenue-generating events'' since the work was completed, with more planned, staff said.

Sir John, asked about Mr Burden's suggestion the facilities should ideally have formed part of the original build, said that was ''fair comment''.

However, he declined to elaborate, saying questions about whether the omission was a cost-saving measure were ''for the Carisbrook Stadium Trust''.

''There's a whole lot of stuff that can be gone over and over and over here. We've just got to get on with it.''

CST chairman Malcolm Farry denied the toilets had been omitted to save money, saying comments were being made ''without an understanding of the true position''.

He said Level 2A was added later in the stadium's design phase, after it was noted there was enough room for an extra floor.

The decision aimed to maximise returns from the venue, but had to be done within the previously agreed budget.

That meant there was always an understanding the floor would be a ''shell'', with toilets and other facilities to be added later, at tenants' expense, as part of the fit-out, he said.

He had no knowledge of what had transpired since the creation of DVML, which assumed responsibility for the venue, but insisted: ''There was no 'cost saving' element in this.

''Indeed, there was, in fact, additional cost incurred to create the space,'' he said.

Asked if Mr Farry's comments were correct, Sir John, through a spokeswoman, would only say: ''No comment.''

He said he saw no need to publicise the project at the time.



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